The ache doesn't end. It hit like a two-by-four to the backside as I stood by the kitchen sink yesterday. Wham. Instant gut wrenching, tears refusing to pour out, dry sobs instead. Then in the bathroom, once the door was shut, on my knees, the same heaving heartache longing for a release. Too scared to allow myself to feel it completely, too scared even to pour it out before God, too scared to be drawn nearer. I am so tired of crying. Tired of grieving. Tired of missing my son.
Three o'clock in the morning seems to be the time my mind runs away with its real fears. I finally realized what the panic attack was about this morning at five forty-five when Grace crawled into my bed already showered and dressed for the first day of summer school. Perhaps that has been why the last few days have been so full of anxiety. More pictures without Trent, more experiences without a firstborn son, more grief. The guilt constantly swirling around with it, ever near, telling me that I am a horrible mother to the ones left here. So I paste on the smile, grab the camera, and try to start the day without a cup of coffee. I see them excited for the new adventure, so glad that they have joy, jealous of the innocence.
Cole's words still haunt my memory from last night, my desire for him to talk about his brother's death being immediately followed up with a desire that he wouldn't have. "I was sitting on Lexi's bed this afternoon and when I looked down my hands were so pale, as pale as Trent's were when he died. Why do you think?"
I think I don't want to think about Trent's pale hands, Trent's pale body, a dead son's body lying on an emergency room gurney over two years ago. I try to answer with some know-it-all home school mother explanation, how the hands are so far away from the heart and take longer to pump the blood to them, therefor maybe he was letting them dangle and cut off the circulation.
"Then why were Trent's hands so pale?"
Well, you see, when our bodies die the heart quits beating, causing the blood to quit circulating, which causes your skin to look pale. Standing in front of the mirror together, giving him a quick hair buzz, a closeness both physical and emotional that has been scarce since the teen years started and it's not so cool to show love for your mom anymore. Longing to run, run somewhere where son's aren't dead anymore, where spiritual explanations are accepted easier than cold answers, where there is no balance to giving God the glory when everything is about your rival brother, where things don't hurt this bad in a mother's soul, somewhere safe that emotions can be exposed, heaved up rather than pushed down, down, down.
The word was used twice, less than ten verses apart in the book of Ephesians (1:18-19 and 2:7). The second time made me stop and reread the passages. I've been trying to compare this grief to something that is incomparable. The pain that I so often feel that should be impossible for any mortal woman to carry is met by a God with incomparable great power to sustain me; a never ending well to drink my fill from. The glory to be revealed and the riches of His grace to be poured out will come from the hand of an incomparable Savior.
Somehow this battle has shifted into being a battle of worth. The subtlety of Satan, and being careful to not give credit where credit is not due, the subtlety of my own deceiving flesh has shifted the gears again and has put God on trial. Being careful, of course, to frame it appropriately so as to still sound Christian, but to actually insinuate that He is a liar. How twisted our thinking becomes in pain. How consumed we get, how far we run, what lies we tell ourselves and convince ourselves to believe. Ephesians woke me out of my stupor for a moment, if even for one tiny glimpse, one more miniscule longing for God and eternity in this blinding time.
God's power is incomparable to sustain me. He promised that the riches of His grace to be revealed will be incomparable as well. As the apostle Peter says, these trials, which last only a little while, are achieving the end result, the salvation of my soul (1 Peter 1:3-9).
And then, for the umpteenth time, my brain asks where it is, where glory is revealed, where our eyes can take it in? For the handful of seconds that I can actually allow myself to try to comprehend Heaven, I realize that Trent is there, before this incomparable God, this God that I am always trying to compare. The gut curling tears come just as hard as the painful ones during these moments. How, where, and why can't I be there? The longing never ends to be in God's presence, consuming me as much as the longing for my son.
As if in answer to my many questions, God once again used Jon Bloom's writing along this walk (God's Mercy in Making us Face the Impossible, May 17, 2013, Desiring God blog).
There are times when God orders our circumstances in such a way that from a human standpoint his promises are impossible to fulfill. And if at that point we find these promises almost unbelievable, as did Abraham (Genesis 17:17–18) and Sarah (Genesis 18:11–14), what God has exposed are the boundaries of our faith — boundaries he means to expand.
Resting in the promises of God is learned in the crucible of wrestling with unbelief — seasons, sometimes long seasons, when everything hangs on believing that God “gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist” (Romans 4:17) and there is no safety net.
If you’re in such a season, as difficult as it feels, God is being incredibly kind to you. Because such seasons are when we really learn that nothing is too hard for the Lᴏʀᴅ (Genesis 18:14). And the joy in God that results makes any agony endured not even worth comparing.
Abraham and Sarah “grew strong in [their] faith” (Romans 4:20) because God pushed them to believe more than they thought was possible. For the sake of our joy he does the same for you and me.
"So suck it up buttercup," I repeat to myself. Resist the devil and he must flee, the victory has been won, and it is an incomparable victory. Take heart, stop the runaway emotions and feel the tremble of the earth awaiting its approaching King, groaning in its longing for a Savior that is coming soon. God is reigning from His throne, He is on the move, the battle has already been won. His glory is going to be worth it all, His grace beyond my feeble imagination, the joy unending. This same God that Trent stands before now is the same God who will carry me until that day.